Fly Strike is a serious condition where fly larvae are living in and feeding on the dead skin of a live chicken. Fly Strike can effect other animals besides chickens and they can even effect humans. Another name for it is myiasis or fly – blown. The larvae can move internally and cause very painful problems. It can be fatal if not treated promptly.
Flies like moist, dark, areas in order to lay their eggs. The vent area of the chicken is a favorite place, but they can strike any place on the body where there is an open wound. Flies lay their eggs and within 8-12 hours, larvae emerge to begin eating on the chicken’s flesh. The larvae feed on the skin causing sores that can become infected.
Flies that are known to cause this are bot flies, blow flies and screw flies. Fly strikes are most common in warm weather. Summer and Fall is a prime time. Whenever you begin to see more than normal the amount of flies around your coop, you should take action to diminish them.
Dust Bathing is a great way for birds to keep themselves clean. Make sure that your birds have the opportunity to dust bath. Runny droppings can build up in the vent area. This soiled vent area can cause an opening in the skin which can be attractive to the fly. Try and keep those fluffy butts as clean as you can. You may need to give them a bath. Always treat open wounds with an antiseptic to help heal.
Clean water is important as well. Wash and disinfect the waterers as often as you can. Some people switch to nipple waterers which will remove the standing water mess. Chickens often have poo and dirt in their waterers which will attract flies.
One thing you can do is to control the fly population around your coop. We use flypaper strips but there are other products as well. Hang vanilla air fresheners up in the coop. Flies hate the smell. Add screens to windows and doors in your coop. Keep the ventilation but cut down on flies.
Keep your chickens in good general health by giving them probiotics in the water. Watch any injuries very closely as they heal.
Treat fly strike by first segregating the bird from the others. Chickens are attracted to red colors and will peck at wounds on other chickens. This will make the wound even worse. Apply Blue Kote to the wound.
Add vitamins and electrolytes to the water to help with healing.
Bathe the chicken and try to drown as many larvae as possible. Physically remove as many as you can see. Flush wound with vetericyn spray. If the wound is deep, use a syringe to drive the solution into the wound. Dry the area with a hair dryer and then spray again with the vetericyn wound and infection treatment. If it is really infected then antibiotics may be needed. See your veterinarian or use Tylan .
Hopefully fly strike will not happen in your flock but it is best to be prepared and to understand it when you see it. Good luck with your silkie flock!